Homelessness & Children

Homelessness & Children
Family Advocacy Project – ESP772 – 1001
Summer 2018 – Joe Bustillos

I created this post as part of a Master’s level course at UNLV that I took for my Nevada teacher credential. The research was inspired by the recent child separation dilemma created by poor policy decisions. Please feel free to ask questions or comments at the bottom of the page.Continue Reading

Have An Informed Opinion: Volunteer at Your Local School

pledge of allegiance false claim

So this showed up in my feed…. maybe these people should actually spend time visiting or volunteering at their local schools instead of watching right wing propaganda on their TVs and then throwing virtual rocks from their computers…. here was my response:Continue Reading

Learning LEGO EV3 Robots & Kids


The first time you deploy anything in the classroom, much less something involving lots of small moving parts, I can guarantee that things won’t go as planned but if you planned well you’ll be able to see all the areas you need to fix/change the next time you do the lesson/unit. I’ve been waiting over a year to give my students a chance to do some hands-on learning with the EV3s, mostly fretting over how I was going to share eight LEGO robots with over 400 students spread over 21 classes and survive the experience. Today was the end of our first four-week attempt and boy did I learn a lot about what NOT to do next time (with the next group of 5th grade students beginning next week).Continue Reading

Reflecting on My Photography Editing Deficit (Taking Lots of Photos at School)



On March 2nd I shot over 150 images and videos on two cameras & my iPhone covering two student assemblies for the Jump for the Heart initiative. On the prior Wednesday, February 28th, I shot over 270 images covering a rugby demo/promo event. The Friday before that, February 23rd, I shot over 270 images covering my school’s Black History Assembly. Add to this, shots taken daily covering all of the random things happening on campus and in my STEAM Lab, that’s over 800 images/videos shot in last three weeks. There are stories here that I want to share, I just need to find the workflow and schedule that will help with this editing/posting/sharing log jam. I’m so insane to imagine that this is at all manageable. 😎

Many years ago I remember telling my middle school yearbook/journalism students that of the 500 shots taken at whatever dance/event, I needed them to find the three to five shots that told the story of the event. Alas, things have gotten much more complicated now in that for any given shot there might also be a six-second video version and I’ve added 360° video to the mix. Previously I would just have to slug it out through the hundreds of images/videos and find those five images. But now I can create a slideshow video version of the event that is built by the computer of the hundreds of images AND videos taken of the event. I still need to go through the process of tossing any image that is poorly shot or does help tell the story. I used this automated slideshow method with the big robotics events and behind-the-scenes images/videos. I still need to find the three to five shots that tell the story but I can also let the computer build a 1-minute version that uses 100s of images and video clips from the event(s). Except in non-digital environments (like a printed yearbook) this feels like a win-win. Now I need to decide whether I’m going to jettison my Lightroom monthly subscription because I can get the job done using less expensive tools.

Dealing with Broken Tech-Ed Stuff (Again)

Tools to Fix Broken Audio Port
Tools to Fix Broken Audio Port

Tools to Fix Broken Audio Port

As I’ve said before, nothing tests the reliability and toughness of equipment (and people) like being subjected to the daily use by 4- to 11-year-olds. It gives new (literal) meaning to the words “wear and tear.” Thus, my hearty group of learners have vanquished with almost no effort over a dozen styluses that were designed to be used by the military. More recently they have disabled three iPads and a z-Space computer by (mostly unintentionally) breaking off the ends of the headphone plugs inside of the 1/8” audio ports. Because the end of the headphone plugs is stuck in the devices, no audio is sent to the perfectly good speakers and obviously another headphone can be connected to the blocked port.

I’ve reported this issue to IT two times this year, and both times IT simply replaced the damaged iPads with other iPads because we’re able to fix them (remove the broken bit stuck in the jack). When the third current iPad of the current batch went down I decided that I needed to do something myself. Looking online there were numerous videos on YouTube touting various solutions, most involving dabs of superglue and skinny straws.

In my Google search I saw that Fry’s had an extraction tool (for $6) that might do the trick. Yeah, no so much. The tools I bought we mostly designed for inserting and pulling plugs from serial cables, etc. and not broken audio plugs. So that one’s going back to Fry’s. I found something called the GripStick that was specifically designed to exact broken audio bits… but it was on kickstarter, so I check amazon.com for a tool similar to “GripStick.” I found something called “S&G Tool Aid 18552 Deutsch Release Tool” that conditionally advertised that it was for removing broken audio bits… but this was going to be about $24. Damn. Well, I need to rescue these iPads (and zSpace computer), so I made the order. Then I thought that I should look at the price for the GripStick and ordered that one too.

We’ll see if this really fixes things by helping remove the broken audio plugs, but it feels good to do something versus filing a report and doing without. It’s always better to find a solution that keeps one in the game.


We’re Back… Second Half of the School Year Adjustments

Back when the Washington Redskins were winning Super Bowls (circa 1991), one was always wise to be aware of coach Joe Gibbs’ incredible halftime readjustments where they’d take what they learned in the first half and crush the opposing team in the second half. Now that the first half of the school year has passed I wish that I could say my break was spent plotting the conquest of learning that was going to take place in my STEAM Lab over the next half of the year. I mostly slept in every morning. Obviously I really needed the break. But what are my second half adjustments?

Alas, I’m still working on classroom management stuff that should have been taken care of in August, but will make things a bit more manageable going forward the rest of the year. The other ever-present concern is how to best use the 18.5 50-minute lessons we have left in the school year. I’ve scheduled three weeks/lessons of EV3 robotics for the three 5th grader classes, I’d like to have all grades do some animation work with their drawings, I don’t feel like we’ve done enough with our Augmented-Reality 3D systems and we have a 3D printer that needs to get some attention. We have a classroom set of WeDo LEGO robots on order, which are more elementary school appropriate, which I would love to fit into the end of the school year. So many ideas, so little time left to implement. Not Joe-Gibbs-level adjustments, but I’m getting a better picture of our limitations and therefore where I should devote our resources. Go, sTEAM, go!

Adios AIM: Tool to Create Constructive Virtual Presence


Adios AIM: Tool to Create Constructive Virtual Presence

AIM (AOL Instant Messenger) silently ceased to exist on December 15th, and most of the tech pundits I heard appeared to either be happy to see it go or spoke of the service with low regard. I mark this passing from a different set of experiences.

When I got my Master’s degree online in 2002 and later when I worked on my doctorate in 2005, AIM was my life-blood and for at least the decade following it was how I stayed connected to my friends and classmates who were spread across the world. Long hours working on projects on my computer at any hour of any day, having an open chat window gave me a sense of presence with my friends who were also engaged in similar endeavors across the whole world. Unlike previous academic experiences, listening to hours long monologues in crowded impersonal lecture halls with virtually no connections to those around me, because of AIM & AOL chat rooms, I spent hours with my friends during our group lecture sessions, exchanging snarky comments and quips, which didn’t belong in the main session. I came to appreciate the powerful social component in a meaningful learning experience using AIM and AOL chat rooms. I even employed AOL chat rooms when we were all sitting in the same physical classroom. I first did this during my Master’s program, and the five of us who met in our own AOL chat room for our weekly full-class session bonded in a way that I have never experienced in all of my years as a student. We called ourselves the Back-row and we’ve remained good friends 15-years after our graduation. I can’t say that about the other five universities I’ve attended or graduated from.

Too often pundits demean technologies because they cannot see a rational use of said technologies. My experiences with virtual learning communities via AIM/AOL chat rooms was strong enough that when I began teaching online at the Master’s level I required that my students post their AIM handles and as part of the curriculum 30% of their grade was based on their level of interaction/posting meaningful comments on each other’s work. Others may dismiss AIM/AOL chat rooms as something that was used by teens trying to work around parents monitoring their phone use, but I used it as a tool to create and support learning communities that significantly helped my students during their Master’s degree program.

Alas, the world has gone mobile and while I can still communicate with anyone at anytime via the powerful online tools and communities that are currently available, there’s something missing now that I don’t depend on having a list of those online floating on a part of my computer screen whom I could chat with via a single click on their avatar. We have better tools that allow for full audio and video connections (remember AIM was entirely text-based and having great speed at typing was an advantage), but I rarely feel like I have my virtual pals on the ready just one click away. I guess the closest experience would be Slack. Close, but not the same.

I put “Constructive Virtual Presence” in the title because I’m aware that there’s an element of real-time “virtual presence” possible with FaceBook and FaceBook messenger, but everything else (distractions) about FaceBook makes it such a time-suck that I feel like FaceBook hinders more than helps when it comes to creating virtual connections and communities. It’s a necessary evil, but again, more of a hinderance than a help. Adios AIM, thanks for helping me experience the real power of learning with friends spread across the whole earth. Despite the dismissive comments of others, you helped change my life.